Tag Archives: Concert

REVIEW: Back to Bacharach – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

The back catalogue of Burt Bacharach comprises some of the world’s most recognisable hits. In a career spanning six decades (that arguably reached its zenith in the mid-to-late 60s) there’s a rich vein of material to be mined here.

Bach to Bacharach – The What The World Needs Now Concert Tour, delivers not only the big hits: I Say A Little Prayer, I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, Anyone Who Had A Heart, Walk on By, The Look of Love, Make it Easy on Yourself, 24 Hours From Tulsa, the list goes on and on, but there are a few surprises too: Keep Me In Mind covered by Elvis and Don’t Make Me Over from Dionne Warwick.

Backed by an eight-piece band, the principal vocalists Martin Neely, Chloe Du Pre and Arabella Rodrigo have a wealth of experience behind them from the West End stage to backing/session work and cruise/cabaret performance. There’s a warmth from the trio that transmits to the audience and they work hard to keep the energy levels up and the audience engaged throughout.

There’s plenty of bang for your buck here, the hits keep coming and the two-hour show is packed with familiar song after song.

 

The only issue the cast are fighting against is that these songs are synonymous with some of the most legendary vocalists in pop history: Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones and Cilla Black, to merely touch on a few, indeed Black’s trials and tribulations when working with control freak Bacharach, are vividly documented in the recent musical of her life Cilla. These are big shoes to fill and while there are some show-stopping moments, Rodrigo’s Anyone Who Had A Heart is a stunner, they never quite hit the heights of the originals. That said, this a top quality production with an on-point band and hugely talented vocalists, one could never tire of hearing these pop classics and the packed audience is testament to the enduring draw of Bacharach. Just sit back, relax and enjoy.

Back to Bacharach is currently touring the U.K. – details here: http://www.back-to-bacharach.co.uk

 

REVIEW: The Wandering Hearts – Broadcast, Glasgow

Having spent weeks at the top of the Country Artist Album chart, the talent and quality of London-based ‘country, folk-pop’ group The Wandering Hearts won’t be confined to intimate venues like Glasgow’s Broadcast for long.

Thirty minutes after uploading two demos to SoundCloud, the group, then called The Paper Hearts, caught the attention of Decca Records, who invited them to audition one month later, and signed them on the spot. A small name change, a turn supporting the Brothers Osbourne, an appearance at the C2C Festival and here we are on their first headline tour.

Having a band with four talented vocalists results in the most ear-pleasing, to-die-for harmonies and while each is a knock-out singer, it’s A.J. Deans’ outstanding voice that lingers in the memory. The interchanging of the vocal leads means that the interest never wanes throughout the set. Comparisons are inevitable with Fleetwood Mac but it is evident that this band have poured their hearts and souls into the creation of these original sounding songs, there isn’t a weak link in the entire one hour set. Standout among the fabulous tunes are the upbeat Devil and the contemplative If I Fall.

The quality of the sound, singing and song-writing is bigger than this (albeit) sold-out show. This is stadium filling stuff with a wide appeal. The current appetite in the UK for musical Americana remains undiminished and The Wandering Hearts will undoubtedly be at the vanguard of the British movement.

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub.

 

REVIEW: The Rat Pack Live From Las Vegas – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Aiming to recreate the heyday of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr, The Rat Pack Live From Las Vegas has the potential to be a huge crowd-pleaser. The show, created by Mitch Sebastian has been doing the rounds both on tour and in the West End since 2002 with little change to its seemingly successful formula.

It’s the early 50s, the Sands Hotel and not only are the Rat Pack in town but Jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald is too. While it aims to create that Las Vegas glamour, the set is simplistic: the band on a raised platform, a grand piano, some stools and a representation of the Sands famous logo, are all that decorates the set, so it’s down to the music and the performers to sell the show.

First impressions are good, the band, under the tight musical direction of Matthew Freeman, are outstanding: crisp and pin-sharp, they recreate the sound of the best of the big bands, Freeman also has a fine, fine touch on the piano. Garrett Phillips as Frank Sinatra also makes his mark, recreating Sinatra’s sonorous tone perfectly as well as his idiosyncratic phrasing, although he’s entirely wooden as he moves around the stage. David Hayes has captured some of the voice, but is the least co-ordinated Sammy Davis Jr you are likely to see – for a man renowned for his dancing skills, you can’t help think they could have tried a little harder in the casting and while a heavily panstick-ed Nigel Casey has Dean Martin’s shtick down-pat and moves well, he is often over-powered by the band. Nicola Emmanuel as Ella Fitzgerald makes a fleeting appearance and while entirely competent, fails to make much of an impression.

While there is a fair representation of the main trio’s biggest hits: I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Mr Bojangles, That’s Amore, to name a few, there are some less well known numbers that will either delight or frustrate. In the case of this reviewer, it frustrates somewhat. With three (and with Fitzgerald, four) artists with such rich back catalogues, there is space to make this an evening of out-and-out highs, however, the uneven nature of the song choices means the evening never really hits its stride. That coupled with some utterly cringe-worthy linking dialogue and an attempt at humour in the second act, that falls flat on its face – you can feel the tumbleweed slowly making its way across the stage – you can’t help feel that it’s all an opportunity missed.

There’s undoubtedly talent on the stage, both in the singers and musicians, but their potential is not being exploited. It’s time to get rid of the sexist, racist and homophobic banter and while there’s an argument that it’s reflective of the era represented, it’s just lazy, especially with a cast with so much to give musically – less chat, more music please. These artists and they way they sang these songs can speak for themselves. An overhaul is needed to get the most from the music and the cast. Still an enjoyable evening if you concentrate on the music and ignore all the filler.

Runs until 10 February 2018 | Image: Betty Zapata

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub here

REVIEW: An Evening with Collabro with special guest Carly Paoli – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

2014 Britain’s Got Talent winners, Collabro have had an enviable career since the TV talent show. Unlike some of their fellow winners, they have scored three top-20 albums including the number one Stars, have completed worldwide tours, appeared at Proms in the Park and performed at exclusive engagements around the world.

Tonight their Home tour arrives in Glasgow with support act Country/Christian/pop act Philippa Hanna and a guest appearance from classical/crossover singer, Carly Paoli.

Collabro are undoubtedly a class act and the quality of the set/stage presentation reflects this, though the video intro with BGT/X-Factor style voice over is unnecessarily cheesy, the lighting design, video projections and the quadruple staircase staging are all visually pleasing.

The set comprises the great and good of musical theatre as reflected in their current album Home. There’s a pleasing variety in tone throughout the night, but it’s the big-hitting Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera medleys that have the fans in raptures. They are at their best when singing as one, their harmonies are incredibly impressive, though the solo vocals are largely of a high quality, it is Jamie Lambert who has the most original voice.

Special guest vocalist and rising star of the classical/crossover world Carly Paoli is an impressive talent. She, like headliners Collabro, is a class act and her beautifully toned voice soars in the Theatre Royal (fittingly owned by and the home to, Scottish Opera), she is the perfect fit for the vocal quartet. As well as showcasing songs from her debut album Singing My Dreams she performs a beautiful duet on Over The Rainbow.

This is an evening of quality throughout, from the choice of songs, the production value and the superb quality vocals – it’s hard to fault.*

The Collabro Home tour continues until 2 December 2017.

*The only gripes about the evening would be the excessive promotion of merchandise which permeated the entire evening from the support act Philippa Hanna, guest star Carly Paoli to Collabro themselves. Each one interrupted their set to push product. That, and the incongruous Country/Christian pop support act Philippa Hanna, who while a gifted singer was an odd musical choice for the headline act.

 

REVIEW: Keith Jack: Movie Nights – Wild Cabaret, Glasgow

Astonishingly, it’s a decade since Dalkeith native Keith Jack was runner up in the BBC’s search for a ‘Joseph’ in Any Dream Will Do. Only 19 years old at the time, much has happened in the ensuing years, with Jack eventually donning the technicolour coat on the tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

Currently on tour to promote his third and latest album, Movie Nights, Jack returns to Glasgow with an up-close and personal show at Glasgow’s Wild Cabaret. Sitting at tables, under twinkling candlelight, it’s a hark back to the golden days of cabaret.

Eschewing any of the musical theatre tunes that have made him famous, the entire set comprises Jack’s personal movie favourites. There’s no doubt that Jack possesses a voice that would blow a set of barn doors off, but there’s a sense of holding back in this small venue. The sound levels are also a tad imbalanced, the three piece band (drums/keys/guitar) headed by MD Scott Morgan, often overpower Jack – and that’s no mean feat.

The songs in the two-hour set are treated to some new and unusual arrangements from Morgan, the most successful of which are the ballads, especially She’s Like the Wind from the much-loved Dirty Dancing, accompanied only by the piano, Jack’s voice gets to shine fully. A particularly nice touch is the inclusion of children’s choir Vivace who provide depth and colour to I Believe I Can Fly and the title song from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Less successful are Jack’s backing singers who are almost inaudible. The set list as a whole is eclectic, and there really is something for every taste.

Jack’s bubbly personality shines through, and he manages to gee the crowd into life as the night progresses. This is a lovely, small venue and the chance to see a performer of Jack’s calibre and interact with him in such an intimate setting, is a rare treat – it is a great way to spend a Sunday evening – you just can’t help pine for some of those big musical theatre belters to let Jack’s phenomenal voice soar…maybe next time.

Keith Jack: Movie Nights at Wild Cabaret, Glasgow, Set List:

Viva Las Vegas

Love Me Tender

Jailhouse Rock

Staying Alive

Love Is All Around

A 1000 Years

You Got a Friend in Me

So Close

I Just Called to Say I Loved You

I Believe I Can Fly

Beauty and the Beast

She’s Like The Wind

Eye of the Tiger

Somewhere Out There

Bright Eyes

When You Believe

Kiss From A Rose

Run To You

Everything I Do (I Do It For You)

Jailhouse Rock (reprise)

Keith Jack’s album Movie Nights is available from: http://officialkeithjack.co.uk/shop.php

 

REVIEW: Idina Menzel – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

idina menzel standing arms aloft

Tony Award-winning Broadway superstar Idina Menzel is in town once again with her individual blend of musical theatre classics, pop standards and self-penned songs from her new album.

As ever it’s an eclectic mix: The Beatles’ Dear Prudence melding into Do You Want to Build a Snowman?, a clutch of the songs from the shows that made her Broadway name – Seasons of Love and No Day But Today from Rent, Defying Gravity and For Good from Wicked, some very introspective offerings about her divorce, her son and finding new love from the album idina and, of course, the ubiquitous Let It Go from Frozen – which she performed with a clutch of tiny fans at her side, oh, and a Led Zeppelin tune.

Menzel is best described as ‘quirky’ and this unevenly paced and toned production is a reflection of that. At times utterly distant: there’s little dialogue in the first 20 minutes or so save the occasional ‘thank you’, then in turn confessional: disclosures about her divorce from actor Taye Diggs, her relationship with her son and her recent engagement, then utterly accessible: chatting and singing with fans. The result, though keeping the audience on its toes, is a little unsettling at times – there’s no build of excitement and in the moments when the audience has the chance to get truly engaged it crashes to earth with another sensitive ballad. As a huge fan, and someone who has seen her in concert and in stage roles many times, it all seemed a little too self-involved, even for a performer as kooky as Menzel. Engaging – yes, entertaining – yes, a bit all over the place – a definite yes.

Menzel is a unique talent, and despite a few wavering notes, still in fine form. Not her best, her previous UK tours had more impact, but still packing a punch and still with the power to move.

REVIEW: Michael Ball & Alfie Boe – Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow

The master of musical theatre Michael Ball and Britain’s best-loved tenor Alfie Boe join forces on a UK tour to promote their recently released album Together.

The whole evening rattles along amiably and the pair has an easy charm that transmits well to the audience. The programme is rich and varied: from an Elvis medley, a James Bond segment to a selection from Les Mis, a show that both have a history with – Ball as the first Marius and Boe as a critically lauded Jean Valjean on both Broadway and the West End. However, surprisingly, it is a Rat Pack segment that blends these two contrasting voices to best effect.

The pair have ample opportunity to showcase their considerable vocal skills; Boe has the power and drive and Ball the mellow honeyed tones. For Boe, the highlight is undoubtedly his rendition of The Who’s Love Rain on Me, a powerhouse performance that has the audience on its feet at its conclusion, for Ball it’s his personal anthem Love Changes Everything.

This is a rare opportunity to see two singing giants together on one stage and the result is a hugely entertaining evening – a rare treat, and a class act from start to end.

REVIEW: Kerry Ellis – Wild Cabaret, Glasgow

West End leading lady Kerry Ellis is in Glasgow for one night only with her solo cabaret show in the very intimate surroundings of Wild Cabaret at the Wicked Lounge.

Ellis delivers a cycle of songs that she has largely been regurgitating over the last five years, most from her own stage career with some personal pop favourites peppered throughout. There’s also the obligatory audience participation on For Good, though to everyone’s amusement, rather than duetting with one lucky viewer, the tiny stage is packed with most of the audience passing the mic.

In an attempt at originality, many of the musical theatre and pop standards have been ‘treated’ to new arrangements, which, rather than give them a new lease of life, renders virtually every song the same: Sondheim, the Sherman Brothers, Boublil and Schonberg generally got it right first time. Ellis needs to take a leaf out of Josh Groban, Jeremy Jordan and theatre diva Bernadette Peters’ book and provide a richer programme – if you’re going to mess with the best, then it really has to be different.

Ellis has a decent set of pipes, of that there is no doubt, she’s also personable enough, but the evening as a whole is a little lacklustre and has the feeling that the spiel is well-rehearsed rather than a spontaneous reaction to the city and the crowd, there’s also a complete lack of eye contact, whilst fine when singing, is a little odd given the minuscule nature of the venue.

Ellis-lovers will absolutely love it, the tiny venue was packed to the rafters and buzzing throughout, however, those who are a little more discerning might be disappointed.

REVIEW: Jeremy Jordan – Church Hill Theatre, Edinburgh

After successful cabaret runs at New York’s 54 Below, Broadway, film and small-screen star Jeremy Jordan brings his considerable talent and charm to the UK for a limited run in London and Edinburgh.

With the packed auditorium literally buzzing, Jordan bounds onstage to rapturous applause and from the moment the first glorious notes ring out, Jordan has the crowd firmly in the palm of his hand. And boy does he deliver, there’s something for everyone in the programme, which reads like a CV of career highlights: songs from Bonnie and Clyde and Newsies, the show that set his Broadway star alight; a Sondheim selection; a barn-storming Moving too Fast from the movie version of Jason Robert Brown’sThe Last Five Years; a Rock of Ages medley of More Than Words andTo Be With You with wife Ashley Spencer; some compositions of his own and an audience Q and A.

Jordan’s voice is a class apart and his charisma and the sheer joy and enthusiasm with which the whole night is infused is infectious. His natural rapport with the audience and his willingness to share personal stories and banter elevates this above the usual formulaic fare.

With the transition to the small screen successfully made (in Supergirl), it may be a while until we see Jordan on a stage again, hopefully, he’ll still have time to squeeze in some more gems like this. A fabulous night’s entertainment that’ll stay long in the hearts and minds of the adoring audience .

REVIEW: Bernadette Peters – The Playhouse, Edinburgh

Considered the finest interpreter of the works of Stephen Sondheim, Broadway superstar Bernadette Peters visited Edinburgh this week on the final night of her three date tour of the U.K.

Ms Peters, despite her tiny stature, is a Titan of the stage, but her modest demeanour and genuine warmth belies this, there are no diva antics here, the moment she steps on stage to a standing ovation, she seems truly appreciative of her audience, and boy are they appreciative of her. That’s not to say she’s lacking in sass – far from it – she cheekily sashays through some glorious, and in some cases forgotten, musical theatre classics. From Gypsy’s Let Me Entertain You, through a series of Sondheim’s greatest works, some sassy show-stoppers such as Fever (delivered reclining on the grand piano) and C’mon a My House which she performed in her TV show Mozart in the Jungle, to little heard songs from Carousel and State Fair, this is a masterclass in acting through song.

Despite the sheer size of this, the largest theatre in the UK, it seems as though you’re in an intimate cabaret club, so adept is Peters at drawing her audience in. There’s pure emotion and total commitment to each and every note and from the front row it gives you glorious goosebumps.

As you leave theatre you know what you have just witnessed is something truly special and will rarely be repeated. Just magical.

Image: Contributed

« Older Entries Recent Entries »